If you think you’ve been cold before, get ready. In the next few days the Twin Cities will experience the sort of bone-shuddering cold that your grandparents used to talk about.
Some of the coldest weather in at least 10 years is expected to arrive in the form of a 72- to 90-hour stretch of subzero temperatures next week, from Sunday into Wednesday, according to Star Tribune meteorologist Paul Douglas.
“The trend has been for milder winters, but you know, every now and then you are still going to get an old-fashioned Minnesota winter,” Douglas said.
Monday is projected to be the coldest day in the metro area in the past decade, with temperatures as low as minus-20 in the morning and reaching a high of minus-10 later in the day, Douglas said. Windchill will make it feel even more arctic.
Twin Citians have been “pampered and spoiled” with mild winters since the turn of the century, Douglas said. Historically, the region’s coldest weather comes in mid-January, but this cold is coming about a week earlier than normal, thanks in part to persistent prevailing winds sweeping down from the northwest, he said.
Still, not everyone is suffering from the cold.
Mary Swirtz, owner of Travel Leaders-MSP Travel Group, with offices in Mendota Heights and Plymouth, said that travel inquiries have jumped this week when normally the company doesn’t begin to see an uptick until well after the holidays.
“This week the phone was ringing more so than normal. I think it’s definitely related to the cold,” Swirtz said. “I want to go somewhere — don’t you?”
Popular destinations include Mexico, the Caribbean and Florida, she said.
If people can’t afford to hop on a plane, they can escape to an indoor floral paradise at the Como Park Zoo and Conservatory in St. Paul.
There has been a noticeable bump in attendance and in inquiries at the conservatory, said Matt Reinartz, a spokesman for the complex.
“People are itching to get out of this cold weather and into someplace warm,” he said.
Even those businesses that would seem to be the worst hit by tundra-like low temperatures find ways to generate sales.
At the two Sebastian Joe’s locations in Minneapolis, the ice cream shop offers a cold-weather discount in January and February.
“As the temperature gets colder, we give a bigger discount,” said Greg Hefferan, the company’s manager of production.
When the projected low is minus-10 to minus-20 degrees, there’s a 25 percent discount on ice cream, Hefferan said. Customers have been taking advantage of the sale and buying a lot of pints and quarts, he said.
On Thursday, nearly every Minnesota community that reports to the National Weather Service was citing subzero temperatures as the sun was rising.
From Crane Lake in northeastern Minnesota, where it was minus-44 at 7 a.m., to 370 miles south in Austin, where it was minus-7, the state was blanketed with frigidity.
In International Falls, where it was minus-42 at 8 a.m., school was canceled for the day because of the cold, the Duluth News Tribune reported. As the sun rose in the Twin Cities area, it was minus-11 in Crystal and Blaine, and minus-9 in St. Paul. There was one holdout: Winona, in southeastern Minnesota, at a balmy 3 above. But with the wind, it still felt like 23 below.
Friday and Saturday bring the Twin Cities back to more typical readings, with highs around 20. However, snow and strong winds are possible. Then it’s back down, down, down, at least until later in the week.
Douglas warned that the subzero temperatures could be especially hard for children waiting at bus stops.
“If you are properly dressed and active, it doesn’t present as much of a threat. The problem is that you have kids just standing and waiting,” he said.
Minneapolis and St. Paul public schools haven’t decided yet whether there will be any delays or closings Monday because of the bitter cold, but Rochester schools have pre-emptively canceled classes for Monday.
Despite all the cold talk, don’t pack the bags just yet, Douglas said. If residents can survive the first few days, temperatures should rise again in the latter part of the week.